City Council approves public partner resolution for community events center

Port of Bremerton, Kitsap Council also firming up their own agreements

PORT ORCHARD — The City Council has adopted a resolution that confirms the City of Port Orchard’s participation as a public partner in the proposed $20 million downtown Community Events Center project, alongside the Port of Bremerton and Kitsap County.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the resolution during their April 23 City Hall meeting. While the resolution adoption doesn’t necessarily make a material change for the development of the proposed project, it does signal to the Kitsap Public Facilities District that the city is working in conjunction with the two other public entities to smooth a governmental pathway for its eventual completion.

Steve Sego, a representative of the development company Sound West Group that submitted a proposal with the PFD in March for partial funding, said the Port and the county have created their own similar agreements that have undergone internal vetting. He expects those entities have either gotten their own approvals or are nearing so, in order to link up with the City of Port Orchard’s resolution.

“This will allow the joining at the hip, if you will, of the three jurisdictions [so they can stand up and say], ‘we’re going to determine the underlying ownership and the means of funding, the construction and the operations’” of the project.

“We’re making a commitment to do that with three jurisdictions together. They’ve already started meeting as a three-jurisdiction team, so it’s a very powerful [statement] for the South Kitsap project.”

Sego said it sends a “strong message that it’s not just a bunch of local people trying to do something. It’s actually the governments that are behind it. They’re saying, ‘we have a path and we know how to do it.’”

He added that the agreement might involve the jurisdictions agreeing to support lobbying for grants that would be “appropriate for the bodies.”

According to the City of Port Orchard’s resolution, its support as a participating public partner of the proposed South Kitsap community events center would help lead toward providing a badly needed central gathering place and community events and activity venue.

It also would be the key needed element of a master plan for the redevelopment of an area of downtown Port Orchard that also would add additional office and residential space, parking, retail and shoreline restoration, jobs and result in a net increase in annual post-development property tax revenues destined to fund various city, county and state departments and entities.

The city resolution’s statement estimated property tax revenue from the project would provide an additional $246,451 to South Kitsap School District, $193,607 to city coffers, $308,892 to the state school levy fund and $223,242 to South Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

The resolution also stated that the investment in the downtown sector will “increase the assessed valuation of these parcels from $3.95 million to $120 million.” It noted that the project could include a corporate headquarters for Kitsap Bank.

Sego said his group has urged PFD’s board of directors to meet between now and May to make a decision on their application for between $10 and $13 million in funding from the municipal corporation. PFD’s directors have the authority to allocate an existing pool of tax revenue for Kitsap County projects it deems of civic value.

The district board has previously allocated money for the Kitsap Conference Center at Harborside in Bremerton, and improvement projects for the North Kitsap Regional Event Center in Poulsbo and the Kitsap Fairgrounds and Event Center in Silverdale. South Kitsap has yet to receive financial support from the facilities district for a project in the region.

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